Fireworks orders hint
at a rackety New Year’s

Firefighters say recent rain will
help prevent associated blazes

Oahu residents should expect a noisier New Year's Eve.

That's because 2,000 more cases of firecrackers than last year are expected to come into Oahu to ring in 2004, according to Honolulu Fire Department statistics.

The number of licenses issued for firecrackers importation, storage and sales also increased from 2002, said fire Capt. Emmit Kane.

But despite the jumps, the Fire Department has no plans to add extra staff during the height of New Year's celebrations because heavy rains earlier this month are expected to reduce the risk of firecracker-related blazes and counteract a possible boost in fireworks sales, Kane said.

"The recent rains have definitely worked in our favor. There's a lot of moisture out there," he said. "We have mechanisms in place already and the ability to recall people should the need arise."

Fireworks go on sale tomorrow.

A $25 permit, available at any satellite city hall on Oahu and other locations on the neighbor islands, is required for the purchase of any firework. One permit is needed for every 5,000 firecrackers.

Daiei's head buyer, Erwin Uyeda, said the store increased its order of firecrackers from last year after selling out at all of the island's Daiei stores at least one to two days before the Dec. 31 buying deadline.

Uyeda declined to say how many more firecrackers he ordered this year for fear that his competitors would rush to order more fireworks from local suppliers.

"We are expecting a very good year for fireworks," he said. "We do have a large market share for the island of Oahu, and we are anticipating an increase in demand this year."

New Year's fireworks may only be set off from 9 p.m. Wednesday to 1 a.m. next Thursday.

Last year, 1,000 cases of fireworks were imported to Oahu. Kane said the number of firecrackers per case is variable.

The number of licenses issued for fireworks storage facilities jumped threefold this year to 15 from five, while 102 retail licenses were issued, up eight from last year. Seven licenses were granted to those wishing to import fireworks to the island this year, as opposed to four in 2002, Kane said.

The number of nonfireworks novelties, which do not require a permit and include sparklers and party poppers, have increased by 23,000 cases this year to 71,000, he said.

Jeanna MacLean, store manager of Kapolei's Kmart, said she ordered 10 more pallets of the novelty items this year than in 2002. Sales of the nonfireworks have increased steadily since 2000, when the state began to require that residents have permits for all fireworks. None of the island's Kmart stores sell fireworks that require permits, MacLean said.


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